Amanda Palmer, Her Belly, and More

When the controversy regarding Amanda Palmer’s belly first hit, I was confused. Amanda Palmer’s record label, metal powerhouse Roadrunner, had told her they wanted to cut shots from her new music video that focused on what they deemed to be the singer’s offensively large belly. I watched this video, and I kept waiting for that one shot. I was waiting to see a jiggling closeup, or a spray of sweat flying from a glistening roll of flesh – just something that would make me say, “well, at least I can see where these A&R dudes were coming from, even if I don’t agree with them.” I waited, and waited, and waited, bopping my head to the tune. And then the video was over. There was nothing sinister; just a soft, healthy belly underneath a sexy open shirt that’s mostly obscured by the microphone stand, as can be seen below:

So yeah. Some dude from the label was like, “I’m a guy, Amanda. I understand what people like.” Uh-huh. What’s brilliant about this is the fact that the video and story are now huge, fueling the success of Amanda’s new solo album, which Roadrunner had deemed a commercial failure. The controversy (“Bellygate”) was featured everywhere from Pitchfork to Bitch Magazine to The freakin’ Guardian, and a fan-made Rebellyon rages on.

Mer, left, and Amanda Palmer, right, performing together at “Fuck the Back Row” in Brooklyn

But this post isn’t just about Amanda Palmer and her belly. It’s also to let you guys know that those of you who live in the Bay Area have a unique opportunity to see our dear Mer perform on stage with Amanda Palmer tonight (December 15th) at Bimbo’s. Mer will be playing both violin and theremin, making me want to drop everything and fly to San Francisco right now. For those of you who are going: enjoy the show, you lucky bastards.

23 Responses to “Amanda Palmer, Her Belly, and More”

  1. Alice Says:

    Gah! How bizarre is that? It’s not even as if her midriff is a focal point or anything. It’s just…there. She’s got just about the cutest belly ever, too, so I think it’s about time to call those record label dudes out on their suppressed homosexuality. It’s also about time to start buying Bitch again…

  2. Heather Says:

    It’s great to see Amanda refuse to budge – it has brought her into the public conciousness a lot more (everyone I know knows about the story), whereas if she had just accepted the label’s judgement the album would have had a quieter reception. Not to mention the fact that, like – what belly? <3

  3. Rachel Radness! Says:

    She sounds like she’s been smoking two packs a day since her last album – and I LIKE IT!

    i have ‘

    I think this is an excellent thing for her; all press is good press, & by sticking up for herself she is just making her label looks bad.

  4. David Forbes Says:

    Yeah, Nadya, it makes me want to fly to SF too. Have a great time everyone!

    When I first saw the Leeds United video, I thought the song (damn thing’s still stuck in my brain), video and Ms. Palmer were stunning. I’m glad the controversy has exploded and hopefully it will spark continuing a backlash against ex-frat boy execs expecting female artists to look like they were just liberated from a concentration camp.

  5. Merveilleuse Says:

    Oh, Amanda. I fucking love her.

    A good while ago I checked out her tour dates and was very sad because there was nothing near me (I live in Texas). I even considered taking a vacay to California to see these shows, but had no money to do so.

    Now, lo and behold, a vacay to NYC has fallen into my lap, and I am going to see her Jan. 1st concert there! Holla back! BELLY SOLIDARITY!!!

  6. Rick Cummings Says:

    I’m still of the opinion that Roadrunner (with such “metal” acts as Nickelback) were more offended by the two dudes making out in the balcony, which got at least one, if not two, very prominent shots during the video. I think they’re using the macho-guy “she’s too fat for us” line than the “we think gays are repulsive” line because it’s less potentially disastrous for them. Calling a woman fat? Guys (typical asshole metal guys, that is) do it all the time. Calling out some queer guys in the balcony? Sounds like a lawsuit.

    All in all, I think the whole damn thing is stupid beyond belief. Really, the label’s A&R should have cleared the video before it was even fully produced and went to air. If RR doesn’t like it, fuck ’em. I’m sure there’s a dozen other similar-sized labels that would be happy to snap up Palmer.

    As for the show… :-( Moving.

  7. elise wilson Says:

    Rick: You know, the same thing occurred to me as well!

    What really gets me is: I just don’t understand how they could misinterpret Palmer’s work in such a huge way. She’s not a Kate Perry type. People like her because she has depth. They like her BECAUSE she has a normal belly. It’s odd.

    The label kept saying that the issue is that the record just wasn’t commercially viable. Why did they think that, I wonder? Was it the lyrics, the music? What did they want more of?

  8. Denise Says:


    she has an offensively large belly?

    words fail me.

  9. Lex Says:

    UGH! I’m so ridiculously bummed out that I live in Long Beach and can’t make it up to the Bay Area by tomorrow night! I’ve been dying to see Amanda but the dates never match up to a time that I can make it. And how perfect would that be? Mer and Amanda?! Hell yes!

    I’ll just have to sit here and weep over my design finals.

  10. Hellen Says:

    Whilst i think it’s awesome that Amanda and Bellygate are getting so much coverage, one thing that bugs me is that so often peoples response is ‘but her belly looks fine’ which still kinda supports the idea that what her body looks like matter at all, which it shouldn’t – I’d be a happy wee feminist if everyone was just saying, fuck her stomach, this is a great song.

    Mini rant over! whoo.

  11. buzzsaw71 Says:

    Was that my favorite SG Manko in there? aww…

  12. John C. Worsley Says:

    I just caught Ms Palmer with the Danger Ensemble here in Portland.

    She’s beautiful, her belly is beautiful, her music is beautiful. Even covering “Living On A Prayer” — even lip-synching to “Cinderella Under My Umbrella” — even murdered in various ways in various settings.

    Lucky Mer.

  13. Brock McCoy Says:

    @Lex: You know Amanda’s visiting Hollywood on the 16th right?

    I want to go to there.

  14. R. Says:

    @David: Well said, David. Well said.

    The Fabulous Ms. Palmer need not change anything and I would give my first born to see Mer perform with her.

  15. LostLigeia Says:

    Rachel: I think she rounds a bit rough in this song because she recorded the album before she had that surgery on her vocal chords. Her voice sounds similar on No, Virginia, and I’m pretty sure that was the case. I don’t mind either way; she always sounds amazing.

    buzzsaw: Yes! Fabulous Manko cameo!

  16. Chris L Says:

    I saw Amanda Palmer play probably a couple days before (or after) John C. Worsley, in Vancouver.

    Totally fantastic. A cultural event, not to be missed if one can at all afford it. I imagine its cultural caché is doubled with the addition of Mer to the mix.

    Also, after all the press that “Bellygate” is getting, I can’t help but wonder if Roadrunner almost intended the whole thing as a free marketing campaign (since they have refused to market her album at all…) Of course, as soon as I start wondering that, I realize that such a stroke of “viral marketing genius” is not only highly unlikely, but it also alienates the entire female population (not to mention any males with any common sense) that might buy other records on the label. Jerks.

  17. Skerror Says:

    Amanda should ditch Roadrunner.

    Nickelback is on Roadrunner.

  18. Lex Says:

    @Brock McCoy: Yes I do. Unfortunately I have a Production Meeting from 4-6 and a Designer Run Through from 6:30-8

    Believe me, I have really, really considered skipping out to go!

  19. Brock McCoy Says:

    @Lex: With doors opening at 8 and 2 opening acts Amanda shouldn’t be on before 10, you can still make it from LB!

    Am I the good angel or the bad devil on your shoulder?

  20. Mer Says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Nadya. It ended up being a really fun show. I had a chance to squeeze those notorious abdominals last night, as well as other bits, and let me tell you, this whole stupid situation is made muy stupider by the fact that Amander has the most gloriously ripped, tiny little yoga monster body from spending two straight years devoted to intensive practice. Fine, no washboard abs, but hey, guess what? SHE’S A WOMAN. We’re not really SUPPOSED to have washboard abs. And for fuck’s sake, who needs ’em?! Gwen Stefani, I guess. Vasquez from Aliens. That’s about it. Motherfuckit.

    Lex, I’m pretty sure Amander won’t hit the stage tonight until around 9:45/10, and she plays a LONG set… you’d make it. If you have any energy left after all that intense theater work –and provided it’s not sold out– I’d recommend making the drive to go. There’s a beautiful theater troupe called the Danger Ensemble working with her right now that you’d enjoy, and it’s their last night of the tour, and they’re in LA (lots of extra-freaky lovely friends in LA who might show up) which means it’s gonna get CRAAAY ZAY.

    Wish I could go, but Mer gotta stay home and make some holiday spending money…

  21. riotclitshave Says:

    My friends and I all posted pics of our bellies to our personal blogs in protest and love of our many shaped bellies.

    And hers.

  22. Wish Says:

    i don’t think i can express in words how excited i am to see the show tonight.

  23. Brock McCoy Says:

    Mer, you were right about Amanda looking good. The corset blocked her belly, but no one in their right mind would say she’s unattractive. Did some exec who voted Yes on 8 just not like what he was seeing in the video, and/or were they afraid of the cultural symbol she’s becoming? If money wasn’t the reason behind RR’s actions, then we’ll never know.

    All she had to say was that it’s fucked up and she hopes to be off the label by the end of the year. Best of luck to her as it was one of the best performances of the year. The Danger Ensemble changed it from me watching just another great musical performance into an unforgettable two-hour interactive experience. They came into the crowd, cleared out a space and started acting out a love scene that ended in two members running together in a picturesque embrace, and then two more members jumped on top of them and repeated the embrace above the crowd. I hadn’t been glomped in years, but during Coin Operated Boy I was nearly knocked off my feet while one of them was attempting to “operate” me. Yeah. I hope you made it, Lex, but regardless she’ll be back.